Second half surge lifts Coyotes
Manuel Guillen/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Andrea Garcia eyes a layup during Tuesday’s victory over Bullard. She scored Madera’s first points of the game and finished with seven points.
After not playing a game in more than two weeks, it took some time for the Madera Coyotes girls basketball team to shake off the rust.
The Coyotes outscored the Bullard-Fresno Knights 30-20 in the second half for a 40-35 victory Tuesday in Joe Flores Gym to open the County/Metro Athletic Conference schedule.
“We haven’t played for a while,” head coach Jason Smith said. “The first quarter really showed. The way we played in the second half was the way I know we can play. We had to shake the rust off. The first half, we were very timid. They were way more aggressive than we were.”
The Coyotes were held to just two points in the first quarter and 10 in the first half while shooting less than 15 percent (3-of-19) from the field.
However, the Coyotes shot 40 percent from the field in the second half and scored 30 points for the victory.
The Coyotes had four players score seven or points despite not having a player score in double-figures. Cathy Figueroa led the Coyotes with nine points. Stephenie Jordan scored eight. Andrea Garcia and Camile Nunez added seven points each. Nunez added six steals while BriAnn Houghton pulled down 12 rebounds to go with four points.
“Camile Nunez was tough at times,” Smith said. “It kind of got everyone else rolling. Stephenie hit some big shots. Andrea got the lid off the basket in the first quarter and the third quarter. From there, we kind of rolled. BriAnn hit some shots down low.”
Meanwhile, the Madera defense also stepped up for Smith. The Coyotes forced 10 second half turnovers and forced the Knights into bad shots.
“I knew who could shoot for Bullard,” Smith said. “I knew we could go into the zone because they don’t have many shooters. One of their best players had an off night. One of their stud players was not available. We executed well.”
While the Coyotes missed their first 10 shots of the game, including a pair of free throws, the Knights took an 8-0 lead, including two points on technical foul free throws against Smith with two minutes left in the quarter.
Garcia made a layup with 1:23 left in the quarter for Madera’s only points. The Knights closed the first quarter scoring with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for an 11-2 lead.
Sofia Perez helped Madera close the gap with a 3-pointer to open the scoring. Figueroa found Nunez for a layup and Figueroa made a layup for a 6-0 run and cut the lead to three.
After a Bullard jumper, Figueroa made two free throws with 2:31 left in the half to keep the game at three.
Bullard came right back with an offensive putback for a 15-10 halftime lead.
Garcia opened the second half scoring with a 15-foot runner, but the Knights made a layup. After a Garcia made a free throw, the Knights made a layup for a 19-13 lead.
From there, the Coyotes went on a 12-0 run to take the lead. Figueroa started the run with a pass to Nunez for a layup. Then, Nunez converted a 3-point play to cut the lead to one. Figueroa found Houghton for a short jumper to give the Coyotes the lead.
Figueroa came up with a steal and made a layup and then found Jordan for a 3-pointer for a 25-19 lead.
Bullard came right back with a 3-pointer and a layup to cut the lead to one.
With about 20 seconds left in the quarter, Smith called time out to set up the next play. Figueroa executed the play with a layup for a 27-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“At the end of the third quarter, I called time out for a play we never ran before,” Smith said. “I drew it up. Everyone knew what they had to do and the timing of it. They executed it perfectly.”
Jordan hit another 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter scoring. After a Nunez steal, Jordan hit a driving five-footer. Aasyria Goins put back a miss to extend the lead to 10 on a 9-0 run with about six minutes left in the game.
Although the Coyotes missed four straight shots, Bullard could only chip away at the lead with three free throws.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Figueroa stole the ball from Bullard and went all the way for the layup. After another Figueroa steal, Nunez found Garcia for a layup to put the game away with a 38-27 lead.
Bullard hit two free throws and a 3-pointer with about 1:30 left in the game to cut the lead to six.
Houghton put back a missed shot to get the lead back to eight.
Bullard answered with a bucket with about a minute left in the game. However, the Knights only converted on a free throw in the final minute for a 40-35 Coyotes’ victory.